Wildcats stumble into playoffs

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You can say this for the Red Wolves of Cedarcrest: Tuesday

night, when they took the floor at the Mount Si gym to confront the `Cats for

their second and last meeting of the year, they did not look or act like the

downtrodden team of a couple of weeks ago. A victory, even late in the season,

can do that to a team.

However, when it came down to it the Wildcats had the numbers,

the speed and the skill, and after the first quarter they steadily motored away

to an 82-41 win.

The game was fast paced and _ thanks to the efforts of

Cedarcrest's James Conrick and Micheal Smith _ close through the first quarter.

Conrick put away 11 points for the evening, all in the first frame, which ended

with Mount Si holding a 27-20 lead. Coach Garrick Phillips' starting five _

graduating seniors Chris Emerson, Ben Eaton, Jason Arriaga and

Chris Kaplan, along with junior Mike Dahm _ then proceeded to execute the

blowout. The half ended with Mount Si on top by 57-31, having

outscored Cedarcrest by a remarkable 30-11 in the second quarter.

When the teams returned for the second half the Wildcats came

out warily, watching for lurking Red Wolves, but the results were

already set. Cedarcrest went down bravely, firing away and pushing for each

point, but they were just outmanned and too tired.

With about two minutes left in the third, Coach Phillips put in the

JV starters. The Wolves finally hit the 40-point mark with 6:20 left to play,

but within a minute or so the `Cats hit the 80-point level on Bryan Gabriel's

two shots from the charity line. The game ended with Gabriel, Sean

Fallows, Dan Flood, Brett Bergstrom and Mike Dollinter on the court.

Junior Isaiah Cormier saw sporadic action throughout the night

and contributed six points to the proceedings. Kaplan set the pace for

both squads, recording 16 points, followed by Arriaga's 11 and Dahm's 10.

Smith led the Wolves with 12.

The victory set up Friday night's final confrontation between the

8-4, second place `Cats and 9-3, first place Sammamish. In the teams' first

meeting on Dec. 10, the `Cats trashed the Totems by a score of 77-56. However,

this time Mount Si's wheels came off and it was the Totems who

delivered the message, thumping the visiting Wildcats by a score of 68-53.

The two squads played it pretty close through the halftime break,

with Sammamish on top by a score of 24-21. The Totems blew it open in

the third quarter, however, successfully working a full-court press and

relying on accurate shooting to outscore the `Cats 24-8. The Sammamish

squad also took full advantage of several Wildcat miscues, forcing several

and on occasion leaving Mount Si gasping and floundering around.

In the end the `Cats proved unable to get their big scorers to the

basket often enough and Sammamish waltzed away with the emotional

victory. The win clinched the Valley title for the Totems, who finished the

regular season with a 10-3 league and 12-7 overall record.

Cormier led the scoring for the Wildcats with 18 points. The

only other member of the team to score in double figures was Arriaga, with 10.

"They [Sammamish] took care of business in the third quarter,"

Phillips said afterwards. "We actually didn't play that poorly, but they just

made everything they put up. We missed a couple of shots early and lost a

couple of turnovers and it just kind of snowballed.

"Then again, without really planning on it, we put ourselves in a

better position for the district tournament. It's actually a better seed."

Phillips was referring to the KingCo conference playoff

series which takes place this week. Mount Si will face Mercer Island on

Friday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. at Bellevue Community College in a game to

determine the third and fourth seeds for the upcoming district tournament. The

Islanders won their only meeting during the regular season, on Jan. 12,

by a score of 61-49.

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